The Latest: Pence doesn't rule out meeting NKorean officials


The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence (all times local):

9:55 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence isn't ruling out a meeting with North Korean officials as he prepares to attend the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Pence tells reporters in Anchorage, Alaska, that he hasn't requested such a meeting but adds, "We'll see what happens." The vice president is leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

Pence says that his message will always be the same — that North Korea "must once and for all abandon its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile ambitions."

Pence is in Alaska on the first stop of a six-day trip designed to increase pressure on North Korea. He'll also be visiting Japan and South Korea.

Pence received a briefing on missile defense with U.S. Northern Command at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

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8:55 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is characterizing the stock market's Monday plunge as "simply the ebb and flow of our stock market" and is urging people to focus on the fundamentals of the U.S. economy.

Pence says those fundamentals continue to be "very strong." He cites job growth, low unemployment and growth in wages.

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 1,100 points Monday with stocks taking their worst loss in six and a half years.

In speaking to reporters in Anchorage, Alaska, Pence said the economy "is on the move" and that Americans can be confident that President Donald Trump will continue to advance policies that will continue to contribute to the economy's momentum.

Pence is on a six-day trip to Japan and South Korea.

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6:40 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says missile defense is essential for the national defense of the United States.

Pence stopped in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday to visit missile defense facilities that monitor and could respond to a launch by North Korea. The vice president is on his way to Japan and then South Korea for the Winter Olympics.

Pence received a briefing with U.S. Northern Command at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. He touted the coming deployment of an additional 20 ground-based interceptors that would respond to launch.

Pence is leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

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4:05 p.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not ruling out the possibility that U.S. officials could meet with North Koreans at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Vice President Mike Pence is departing Washington on Monday on a six-day Asia swing that will take in the games in Pyeongchang.

At a news conference in Peru, Tillerson was asked if Pence or other U.S. officials might meet North Koreans. The top diplomat responded: "I think we'll just see. We'll have to see what happens."

The White House has given no hint that's in the cards. While the Olympics have provided a diplomatic opening between the rival Koreas, it's not quelled U.S.-North Korea tensions. Officials say Pence will be holding symbolic events of his own to highlight the North's human rights abuses and nuclear ambitions.

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10:10 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is departing Washington on Monday on a six-day Asia swing including a visit to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. His visit is set to focus less on sports than on the host country's bellicose neighbor to the north.

White House officials say Pence is traveling to Alaska, Japan, and South Korea to ensure North Korea doesn't "hijack" the games. The vice president will be holding symbolic events of his own to highlight the North's human rights abuses and nuclear ambitions.

In Alaska, Pence will tour missile defense facilities. In Japan, he will meet with Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and U.S. service members. In Korea, Pence will visit a memorial to the 46 South Korean sailors killed in a 2010 torpedo attack attributed to the North, and hold meetings with President Moon Jae-in.

Pence will leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. He'll bring to the games the father of Otto Warmbier, the U.S. student who died in 2017 shortly after he was released from North Korean detention.

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12:36 a.m.

With Congress barreling into another budget battle this week, Vice President Mike Pence is headed to Asia. During the government shutdown last month, he was in the Middle East.

And even as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation draws closer to President Donald Trump, Pence has so far stayed out of the conversation.

Both by coincidence and design, Pence has managed to skirt some of the biggest controversies of the Trump administration. And he's got a full schedule of political and international travel for the rest of 2018 that could help him steer around domestic troubles.

Pence departs Monday for Asia to lead the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics.

But the trip also provides him with an eject button as the budget battle heats up again.


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